China 1999

Written by Al Wong (Write to me)

This is my experience in Beijing, China in the Summer of 1999. If you came to this webpage first, it's better if you start from the beginning of the story.

Sunday, July 11th
Lama Temple, Chinese Acrobats!

Cathy asked me to write today's entry. Today's entry will appear on Cathy Wei's mailing list and eventual webpage as well as here, my personal webpage about my China 1999 trip.

I might as well put in a plug for my webpage here as it is on-line already. It is my personal experience about this trip to China. The URL is:

I originally intended to update this webpage everyday during my trip but the Internet connection here at the language academy is slow and unreliable. To update my webpage, I have to take a taxi cab to a local cyber cafe and do it there. Also, I can only do this during my free time. So I try to update this webpage at least weekly.

Hey, my laundry came back today! It only them took four days again for the turnaround. The turnaround time for the laundry service is supposedly one day. I guess I should be glad I got my laundry back at all. Guess what? I already have another load of laundry to submit to the laundry service again. Hopefully, I'll get it back before leaving for Xi'an the week after next.

They still haven't fixed my toilet yet. There is a leak around the seal on the floor. I've had this leak for over a week. This comedy continues.

Today's activities include:

  • Lama Temple. Seven teachers arrived last night to accompany us for the rest of the tour. Because of this, the minibus was crowded this morning when we left for Yonghe Gong (Lama Temple). We arrived around 8:30am and discovered the temple was still closed. They don't open until 9am. I was surprised a temple would open this late as some people like to pray early in the morning before work. So we wandered the local tourist shops for a while. At least the weather was cool with a slight rain.

    When the temple finally opened we had a tour guide show us around for about an hour. I couldn't understand some of what she was saying because her English was not very good. Yonghe Gong is a working Buddhist temple where people come to pray. As I was looking around, it seemed to me this temple was a zoo with people trying to pray/worship in the middle of these tour groups going by every few minutes. It seemed like a mockery of the Buddhist religion to me. How would you feel during church services having tour groups going by, talking and snapping pictures? According to Cathy, this is acceptable here and there is no disrespect intended. I'll take her word for it.

    The temple itself is your typical temple with incense burning, people praying and bells ringing. They had a couple of interesting Buddha statues in the pray halls, one a sitting Buddha and the other a giant standing Buddha.

    I am glad we didn't walk around too much because now both my knees were still hurting from yesterday's walk in Behai park and last night's dancing at NASA. Yes, I'm paying for it now.

  • Money Exchange. The newly arrived teachers wanted to do a money exchange so we went to a department store for this. I also exchanged some more money for our trip to Xi'an. Just in case.

  • Class Session. We went over making requests from people, making phone calls, asking if people are there, and returning phone calls. This was a good session too with lots of useful material.

    For some reason, some of my classmates took off for over 30 minutes during a break period which is supposed to be only 10 minutes. The teacher got peeved.

  • Chinese Acrobats! When I was little, I wanted to run away with the circus. I wanted to learn how to do all the cool stuff like tumble, balance, juggle and wear the costumes and makeup. I wanted the adrenaline rush from the attention and applause you receive as a performer. After I saw this show, I still want to run away with the circus!

    [Balancing Bowls] To say this show was excellent is an understatement. Feichang hao is more appropriate. This show is probably the best in Chinese acrobatics that China has to offer. I have seen quite a few Chinese acrobat shows in the USA but this show beats them all hands down. Everything was first rate from the theater facilities, the music, the lights, choreography, costumes, makeup, and, of course, the performers!

    [Balancing Glases] Let's talk about the performers. Most of them were young. Quite a few were in the 6-10 year old range. I'd say most of them were under 21 years old. Their strength, agility and showmanship were all excellent. They performed like old stage hands. Their abilities were amazing.

    [Spinning Plates] I did notice some Las Vegas glitter stamped on some of the acts. I have seen enough Vegas shows to know their pattern of presentation. In fact, I think a few of the acts appeared in the Cirque du Soleil: Mystere show in the Treasure Island casino in Las Vegas! Cathy says that Mystere got advice from the Chinese acrobats. I think they influenced each other. Some of the acts were very slick like a Vegas act.

    I picked up some postcards about this show and plan on mailing some of them out. These postcards are great!

    The show lasted about 2 hours and costs $150.00RMB. A bargain for a similar show in the USA. I plan on seeing it again!

The Next Day China 1999 My Writings Al's Wild Web Page

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Last updated : April 30, 2001
Copyright 1999 Al Wong, Los Angeles, California, USA
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